(August 26, 2015) Robotically steering flexible needles can reach their intended target in tissue with sub-millimetre level accuracy. This has been demonstrated by the doctoral research of Momen Abayazid, who is affiliated with the research institute MIRA of the University of Twente. An major advantage of steering flexible needles is that one can avoid obstacles or sensitive tissues and can re-orient the path of the needle in real time as you insert the needle. Abayazid will defend his doctoral thesis on 26 August, 2015.
During many diagnostic and therapeutic procedures a needle is inserted into soft tissue, such as during biopsies, or inserting radioactive seeds in order to combat prostate cancer. In many of these operations the accurate positioning of the needle is of the utmost importance. In general, rigid needles with a relatively large diameter are used in these procedures. However, the drawback of these needles is that they cannot be maneuvered when inserted into tissue and hence cannot avoid any obstacles. In addition, the tissue and organs deform during needle insertion. As a result, the needle often misses its target.